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Dear friends of Luxembourg’s Development Cooperation,

The year 2020 has shown us how a single disruptive element can change the world in an instant and how economic and social systems can be under threat of being undermined in just a few weeks. The COVID-19 pandemic has shaken the entire world, and has resulted in an increase in poverty with approximately 150 million people at risk of moving into extreme poverty, according to the World Bank’s estimates.

A new emergency has therefore arisen in our priority partner countries, and in the countries where our humanitarian activities and those of development NGOs are being delivered: COVID-19. Fragile health systems have found themselves under even more pressure, access to education has been limited, with nearly 2 billion children deprived of their right to go to school in spring 2020, and the socio-economic consequences are expected to be devastating and to eliminate years of progress.

Financing for development remains a major challenge, and that is why Luxembourg’s Development Cooperation has maintained its commitment to keep official development assistance (ODA) at 1% of gross national income, despite the pandemic’s impact on the national economy. ODA remains vital and any budget cut has immediate detrimental repercussions in developing countries, particularly with regard to access to basic social services. An interruption in aid, even temporarily, has a strong impact

on our partners’ work on the ground, particularly that of development NGOs (NGDOs). We have therefore taken care to ensure that the budget constraints imposed by the crisis do not have an adverse impact on civil society and that financial flexibility is demonstrated in reallocating funds and implementing actions as part of the response to COVID-19.

Luxembourg’s Development Cooperation has had to show flexibility by reacting quickly and resolutely to support its partner countries. I am delighted that we have been able to contribute EUR 70 million to the COVID-19 response and to containing its socio-economic consequences. This support has also made it possible to strengthen the links with our partners for implementation, particularly at European level: the Team Europe approach bears witness to the joint efforts of Member States to support developing countries in responding to the crisis.

COVID-19 appeared when countries and their peoples were already bearing the brunt of a number of humanitarian crises: the UN estimates that humanitarian needs associated with the consequences of armed conflicts and natural disasters, such as forced displacements, food insecurity or health emergencies, are at their highest historical level.

In 2020, Luxembourg’s humanitarian aid contributed to humanitarian relief efforts in several crises, such as in Nagorno-Karabakh. Personnel and telecommunications equipment were also deployed to Sudan via, the operational wing of Luxembourg’s humanitarian activities, to help with the establishment of a refugee camp against the backdrop of the conflict in the Tigray region of Ethiopia.

We have also signed an extension to the contract, a public/private partnership of which I am particularly proud and which I consider to be an ambassador for Luxembourg’s humanitarian action across the globe.

Multilateralism remains a significant channel for Luxembourg’s Development Cooperation. During the pandemic, we have been able to rely on international agencies and organisations to implement our ODA, particularly in the health sphere. We have significantly increased our support to the World Health Organization (WHO), with over EUR 10 million. We have also participated in COVAX, the international vaccine sharing mechanism, and have invested EUR 5 million in Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. Global vaccination is vital in ensuring that no one is left behind.

We have just under a decade to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. To help achieve this, Luxembourg’s Development Cooperation is preparing to work in an even more cross-cutting way, particularly in the fields of gender equality, climate and the environment, all issues that need to be systematically integrated into all development actions.

In the Sahel, above all, which is a priority region for Luxembourg’s Development Cooperation interventions and which faces many challenges, both humanitarian and those linked to development, climate change has adverse consequences for human well-being and has a significant impact on gender equality.

I would also like to point to the vital role that the private sector and inclusive, innovative finance can play in promoting economic development and inclusive growth: creating activity that generates sustainable income, particularly for women, young people and small-scale farmers, will make it possible to combat food insecurity and reduce poverty.

In order for development policies to succeed, we must work together coherently. To that end, in 2020 we drafted a joint Indicative Cooperation Programme, ‘Development – Climate – Energy’ with Cabo Verde, the first of its kind. It will be implemented by LuxDev, Luxembourg’s development cooperation agency.

The year 2020 has been scarred by COVID-19 and inequalities worldwide have worsened: that is why we must redouble our efforts in order to counter the setback caused by the health crisis. We have less than ten years to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and I count on the commitment of all Luxembourg’s Development Cooperation’s co-workers and volunteers who are already working to reach this objective. You are the bedrock of Luxembourg’s Development Cooperation and I thank you for your dedication to our common purpose.